CANOE NAGANO '98 ISP DIRECTORY
Sunday, February 15, 1998
Canada goes straight to gold
KARYUIZAWA, Japan (CP) -- Canada, skipped by three-time world champion Sandra Schmirler of Regina, defeated Denmark 7-5 today to win the first-ever Olympic women's curling gold medal.
Denmark took the silver, its first-ever Winter Games medal.
Sweden won the bronze medal, beating Britain 10-6.
The Canadian team, from the Caledonian Curling Club in Regina, comprised Sandra Schmirler, 34, as skip; Jan Betker, 37, at third; Joan McCusker, 32, at second; and Marcia Gudereit, 32, at lead. Atina Ford, 26, was the alternate.
The Canadian team was world champion in 1993, '94 and '97.
The Canadian men's curling team, which was to play Switzerland later for themen's gold medal, watched the match from the crowd.
Canada, which lost just once in the competition -- to Norway in the round-robin -- jumped on Denmark early, scoring three in the first end when Schmirler took out a Danish rock with her final stone that left the animated skip clutching her right fist in the air.
Denmark, which has only one ice rink dedicated to curling -- with one sheet -- in the country, located in Copenhagen, replied with two in the second end.
Schmirler blanked the third end, then took a 4-2 lead in the fourth.
The Canadian rink took command of the match in the fifth end when Danish skip Helena Blach Lavrsen could not stick on a last-rock takeout and rolled out to leave Canada counting one for a 5-2 lead.
The Danes tried to get back in the game in the sixth end after a miss by Betker on a takeout attempt that was too strong and ran straight.
Denmark guarded the counter and tried to add a second counter, but Schmirler played a quality shot that took out one Danish rock with her final stone of the end and rolled across the house and stop on the edge of the four-foot ring.
Lavrsen tried to draw to the four-foot to score one, but was slightly too strong on her shot and Canada had another steal for a 6-2 lead.
Lavrsen got two back in the seventh, drawing to the button for the second point that cut Canada's lead to 6-4.
The eighth end got complicated until Betker took out two of three Danish stones in the rings. The Danes tried to guard their counter and Canada kept peeling away the guards. With her last rock of the end, Schmirler tried to tap back one of her stones in front of the house into the four-foot rings. It appeared to have travelled too far, giving the Danes a steal of one, but a measurement gave Canada the point and a 7-4 lead.
A double takeout by Scmirler in the ninth end left Canada counting four, including one on the button. Lavrsen tried a quiet takeout, but missed and Schmirler took that Danish rock out, forcing Lavrsen to play a quiet tap on the Canadian rock and score one.
The Canadian rink now led 7-5 going into the final end -- with last rock.
When McCusker completed a triple takeout early in the final end, the Danes just ran out of rocks and the Canadian members hugged each other.
Denmark 020 000 201 x--x5
Canada 300 111 010 x-- 7